The proposed rules for commercial truck drivers will not provide the adequate level of protection needed to prevent driver fatigue. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has recommended a ten-hour driving time limit, but indicated they are open to maintaining the current 11-hour requirement. The American Association for Justice (AAJ) submitted comments last month opposing the change.
Every year more than 4,000 people are killed in accidents involving trucks, according to the FMCSA. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, driver fatigue is a factor in 30% to 40% of these crashes. In fact, research shows the risk of a crash increases twofold after eight hours of consecutive driving, and driver fatigue is the leading contributing factor in truck driver deaths from crashes. Driver fatigue puts not only the truck driver workforce at risk, but also other passengers who share the road.
My law partner, Gibson Vance, who is president of AAJ, believes “ensuring our roads are safe should be the FMCSA’s top priority,” and I certainly agree with him. AAJ also opposes FMCSA’s proposed 34-hour restart period, which would allow truck drivers to bypass the 60/70-hour duty limit. This 34-hour restart period cannot ensure a truck driver receives proper rest. AAJ recommends that the FMCSA mandate a 48-hour restart requirement to provide commercial truck drivers with greater rest and recovery time after working long hours. It would also shorten the work week, meaning less-fatigued drivers and safer highways. If you would like additional information on any of the above, contact Gibson Vance or Ben Baker, both of whom are lawyers in our firm, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Gibson.Vance@beasleyallen.com or Ben.Baker@beasleyallen.com.
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